The Family (Or most of them)

The Family (Or most of them)
The Family

March 28, 2007

Sports and Life

For those of you who sometimes read this blog, you'll know I'm a sportswriter and have recently spent several days with the Canadian women's hockey team in Dauphin, Manitoba.

I have joked about the 5-foot-2, 890-pound coach and the svelte, strong, female athletes who could eat me alive and bench-press me 100 times if they wanted to. I've made light about it all.

And I've had fun doing that. (besides that, it's probably true)

I've now returned from that training camp, and have a day or two off before the World Women's Hockey Championship begins in Winnipeg April 3, which I'll be covering til April 10.

And I had a lot of time to meet these women, some of whom I knew before and had interviewed.
And I marvel at who and what they are. And because of that, I still marvel at the beauty of sports -- REAL SPORTS.

As far as I'm concerned, after doing this for roughly 27 years, amateur athletes are the only athletes who are like you and me.
They're at the top of their sport, but they DON'T GET PAID FOR IT.

I don't care about Barry Bonds, I don't care about Peyton Manning (although he was super funny on SNL recently), I don't care about any of the 7-foot NBA stars like Shaquille Oneal.
I don't even care about the National Hockey League's Sidney Crosby.

Or this guy, whoever he is...

I DO care about Hayley Wickenheiser (below), Jennifer Botterill, Angela Ruggerio (of the U.S.) and many other elite athletes who compete in their sports just because they love competing in their sports...

...Without the million-dollar contracts they might earn if they and so many others were competing in sports that are all about TV and deemed professional and made into commercial entities rather than sport.

Sport, at its grassroots, is a beautiful thing. Some of my best memories are of playing hockey, football, baseball, basketball, at the local arenas or fields or courts or diamonds, with friends.

I wish it's the only sports we had. The people are real, like you and me, and don't just spit out stupid cliches for seven-second TV sound bytes. They care. And for the past week, I've loved writing their stories.

For them, it's not about earning money or huge sponsorship deals, necessarily, but about representing their countries. And doing the best they can and being the best they can be.

If only sport could really be about sport, with nothing but sport and winning and losing a part of it. Amateur athletes are beautiful people.

The Olympics is still one of the few events that hasn't sold itself out to a title sponsor. I hope it stays that way.

When the Visa 100-metre sprint or the BankAmerica Olympic Gold Medal Game become the norm, I'm tuning out. Sport is one of the things we still can truly call our own, if we want to.
And nowadays, I think, that's what we need.